Elvis Costello & The Attractions - This Year's Model - 2021 remaster

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by C6H12O6, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Finally got my CD. Yes, I definitely hear the tape damage on "Big Tears". I don't know if I'd describe it as sounding like a cassette – it's more like one big drop-out peppered with smaller drop-outs. Kind of amazed I didn't hear this on the YouTube version. That's a little disappointing. I also heard a little static buzz in the right channel of "The Beat" at 1:28, but it's possible that's part of the recording and I just never noticed it before. (EDIT: Just checked, it's also on the Rhino.) These two and "No Action" are the only songs I've listened to so far. Apart from the tape damage to "Big Tears", this sounds like the definitive version to my ears, although I'd still like to track down the Demon CD.

    I tried reducing the 4 kHz range as suggested by @StingRay5 and personally I think that makes it sound worse, but it's probably just a difference in gear. I'm normally sensitive to that area, but I think the EQ balance here sounds great as-is on my headphones.
     
    Lance LaSalle likes this.
  2. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Still have to give the whole disc a good listen, but the only problem I've had with a cursory listen to each track is that "Pump It Up" sounds rather dull and a little muddy. This could be due to tape damage, but it's lacking in high frequencies. A 2 dB boost centered around another frequency range I'm sensitive to, 6 kHz, seems to put some energy back into the mix (on my headphones, at least). "Night Rally" also seems to get muddier as it goes on, but not to the same extent of "Pump It Up". It may just be because the ending is so dense and there's probably a decent amount of mix compression going on; that low-pitched siren-esque noise is probably squishing out the high frequencies. I've yet to play "Radio Radio" or really study the tracks for any other issues, but I intend to later today. What I can say so far is that, despite some minor flaws, this CD sounds amazing!!
     
  3. Joseph.McClure

    Joseph.McClure Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Just got it….wow. Sounds great!
     
  4. srsch

    srsch Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ USA
    CD or vinyl?????
     
  5. tomd

    tomd Senior Member

    Location:
    Brighton,Colorado
    Just listened to the cd last night.Sounds very open,detailed and uncompressed.I had to really crank the volume up on this one (good thing).Compared the TYM tracks to the one on the First Ten Years SHM Cd Best of I have.Wow! The First Ten Years sounds really bad, dry, thin with some noticeable distortion in the high end.Usually I prefer SHM discs to their regular counterparts but this one sounds noticeably worse. BAck to the 2021 remaster,it sure would be great if UME now did My Aim Is True and Armed Forces this way.Plus released a new “best of that covered the early material.
     
  6. Joseph.McClure

    Joseph.McClure Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Cd
     
  7. chickendinna

    chickendinna Homegrown’s All Right With Me

    I broke down and ordered the Cd from Amazon because of the sterling or mostly sterling reviews here. Elvis made a house payment from all the versions of TYM that I've purchased over the years. I figured that I already had enough copies of this album. Then again I thought, this is Elvis Costello and the Attractions This Years Model that we're talking about.
     
  8. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Okay, so the CD is finishing as I type.

    Yes, this is more sympathetically mastered, so kudos for that. Of course the downside here is that it's not a great recording to begin with. This is never going to an audiophile experience, imo. But yes, a nice version.

    That said - the packaging of the CD is really really poor. It's a jewel case with a booklet that is 2 pages long and barely any info. The booklet is printed on thin paper that got creased just getting it out. The only track listing is in tiny type on the back. Just really really poor packaging. Still, I'll just replace the Rhino disc with this one and erm, file this package away.
     
  9. driverdrummer

    driverdrummer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Irmo, SC
    Gave the whole cd a listen. I love it. Has the dynamic range of an 80s cd but mastered with today’s technology. I love the green label on the cd. Well worth the money!
     
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  10. dmcnelly

    dmcnelly Grammy Award Loser

    Location:
    Michigan
    Listened to the Hi-Res from Apple Music and was very impressed with the remaster. Best this album has ever sounded (outside of the original Radar pressing IMO).

    Decided to forego the CD version and bought the 96/24 version from HDTracks instead (along with the 2020 Armed Forces remaster) and it's basically been on a non-stop loop of those two albums since I got home last night. These remasters really knock it out of the park.
     
    StingRay5 and Lance LaSalle like this.
  11. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    I've finally had time to listen to the whole CD. I'm not going to sugar-coat this, and I'm going to scrutinize it like a general would scrutinize a battle plan. No flaw, regardless of how minor, will escape my sight. Here is my analysis:

    This is one of the best remasters I've ever heard in my life.

    The ONLY major flaw with this CD is the tape damage to "Big Tears". Every other issue I'm about to list is so minor that you could probably count the number of people who care about them on one hand after losing three fingers in a horrifying accident. For perfectionists only:
    • As mentioned earlier, "Pump It Up" is a little bit more dull than the rest of the songs. My guess is that the tape was fairly worn-out, and Greg Calbi opted to go for a "less is more" approach (with mastering, always a good choice!). With the EQ plugin I used, I added +2 dB at 6 kHz and +1 dB at 14 kHz, with a Q value of 1.0 (the widest setting). Not all EQ plugins are made equal, so here's another way to describe it: +0.5 dB at 3 kHz, +1.0 dB at 4 kHz, +1.8 dB at 5 kHz, +2.0 dB at 6 kHz, +1.5 dB at 8 kHz, and +1.0 to the whole range of 10 kHz to 18 kHz.
    • "You Belong To Me" is about 2 dB quieter than the rest of the songs. There's more than 2 dB of headroom before hitting the zero mark, so no compression would be needed to make it the same volume as the others. Due to the incredibly punchy sound of the drums, I suspect that it's either quieter on the master tape, or Greg Calbi lowered it so the odd production wouldn't stick out so much. Or maybe both. Either way, I prefer to boost it a little bit.
    • "Lip Service" is a somewhat brighter than the other songs. I did -1.0 dB at 11 kHz with a Q value of 0.5 (the changes began at 9 kHz and ended by 13 kHz), which tamed the slight harshness nicely.
    • "Lipstick Vogue" may or may not be slightly quiet. I say "may or may not" because I love this song so much that I always crank up the volume. Now that I'm not listening to the Rhino, it's a lot less painful to do so. Regardless, in an A/B against the other tracks, it seems to be about 1 dB quieter. As with "You Belong To Me", there is plenty of headroom, so you can boost it without any clipping.
    • I take back my prior criticism of "Night Rally". The dense production does indeed make it a little murky and indistinct by the end, but every attempt I made to adjust the EQ just made it sound worse. I even tried using the original master and one with the low midrange thinned out and cross-fading them as the ending went on, hoping to prevent the sound from getting too cluttered, but it didn't sound as good. Greg Calbi did the best that could be done with this mix.
    • "Big Tears" is the ONLY thing on this CD (or download, or presumably LP) that constitutes a major problem. The tape damage starts at the end of the first chorus (at about 1:03) and lasts until the end of the song (although the worst of it is over by about 2:21). It's a shame, because the EQ is great. This song sounds good on the old compilation Girls Girls Girls, which should have the same mastering no matter which CD you get, and I've been told it sounds good on the Demon CD Ten Bloody Marys And Ten How's Your Fathers. It does not sound good on the Columbia Taking Liberties CD; don't buy that disc, it's dreadful!
    • "Radio Radio" is somewhat bright and bass-shy. Curiously, I've found that doing the exact opposite move that I did on "Pump It Up" – taking the same exact numbers, but making them reductions instead of additions – works very well.
    So there's my incredibly exhaustive list of extremely anal nit-picking about this CD. None of these flaws – not even the tape damage on "Big Tears" – are enough to make me waver in recommending this CD whole-heartedly. This is an incredibly strange-sounding production, and it's very difficult to master. Greg Calbi absolutely knocked it out of the park. This remaster is phenomenal.

    If anyone at Universal is reading this, please continue to do these excellent remasters, preferably with Greg Calbi at the helm (or, if he's not available, Ryan Smith)! The quality of this remaster is absolutely stunning, and I will buy any future EC remasters without question for as long as they continue to be done as well as this one. If the remaining albums from My Aim Is True through Blood And Chocolate can be done in this style, I will be over the moon (and with a much lighter wallet). I have not been this excited about a reissue – or even the potential for a reissue – in a long time. The idea that this music which shaped my life can continue to shape my life in the form of beautiful remastering makes me very happy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
     
  12. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    The only other comment I have is that the sibilance is significantly reduced here. I really noticed the difference on "Living In Paradise". Again, I'm accustomed to the Rhino, which is brickwalled (the only Rhino CD that is) and has a significant treble boost. I can't tell if a de-esser was used on this remaster, or if the EQ plus the compression and limiting on the Rhino exaggerated it. Either way, this one is a lot easier on the ears when it comes to the "S" sounds.

    EDIT: Just noticed there appears to be some very subtle tape damage in the right channel at the beginning of "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" as well. It passes before the drum intro is done, lasting only a few seconds. It's so subtle that I didn't even notice it when I was actively scrutinizing every second of the disc!!
     
  13. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    On the strength of this, I just went to Qobuz to buy the Armed Forces super deluxe download. I really can't afford it, but I'm so in love with the sonics of this that it's worth eating ramen for a week.

    Fortunately for my wallet, when I click "checkout", Qobuz just redirects me to the homepage rather than bringing up the payment gateway. I take it this is a sign that I shouldn't be buying anything else right now. Okay, okay! I'll listen for once!!
     
  14. MD2000

    MD2000 Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Is the 2020 Armed Forces remaster as great at this one? I don't recall reading much about it.
     
  15. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    It was only available on vinyl or as a download, and only as part of a super deluxe set. I've only listened to the (probably lossy) 30-second samples from Qobuz's download store, and I can safely say I love the EQ, although I can't get an accurate gauge on whether there's compression or not. It sounds louder than the samples for This Year's Model, but whether there actually is compression I don't know (as the remaster of This Year's Model has a lot of headroom). I think there is a bit of compression, because it does feel like it's hitting a ceiling of some kind, albeit softly and infrequently; I didn't get that feeling with This Year's Model. I do intend to buy the Armed Forces download and return with another highly detailed report, but I can't really afford it right now. If you're on the fence, watch this space!
     
  16. Shoehorn with Teeth

    Shoehorn with Teeth Romans 6:23

    Location:
    Z
    This is all great to hear. We can only hope more remasters are in the works!
     
  17. Merrick

    Merrick The return of the Thin White Duke

    Location:
    Portland
    I would be over the moon for the rest of EC’s catalog remastered with this level of quality (hopefully minus tape damage going forward). Get Happy!! and Imperial Bedroom in particular are two I’d love to get in this kind of quality.
     
  18. dmcnelly

    dmcnelly Grammy Award Loser

    Location:
    Michigan
    Went ahead and ran the DR analysis on the 96/24s from HDTracks for the Armed Forces remaster and the This Year's Model remaster. Compare it to the This Year's Model remaster and it's a world of difference.

    Based on how it sounds, I was not expecting the DR to be so rough on Armed Forces, but I guess the numbers only tell part of the story.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. StingRay5

    StingRay5 Important Impresario

    Location:
    California
    Wow. The 2020 Armed Forces looks significantly worse (at least in DR terms) than the 2007 Hip-O CD, which itself is no sonic marvel even if it is listenable.

    Max. TPL | Max. SPPM | LUFSi | DR | File Name

    -0.18 | -0.34 | -11.84 | 09 | 01 Accidents Will Happen
    +0.35 | -0.34 | -12.28 | 11 | 02 Senior Service
    -1.86 | -1.85 | -12.67 | 09 | 03 Oliver's Army
    -0.52 | -0.70 | -11.63 | 09 | 04 Big Boys
    +0.27 | -0.34 | -15.43 | 12 | 05 Green Shirt
    -0.16 | -0.34 | -12.41 | 09 | 06 Party Girl
    +0.09 | -0.34 | -10.60 | 09 | 07 Goon Squad
    -0.13 | -0.34 | -11.86 | 10 | 08 Busy Bodies
    +0.26 | -0.34 | -12.97 | 10 | 09 Sunday's Best
    +0.13 | -0.34 | -11.86 | 10 | 10 Moods for Moderns
    -0.23 | -0.34 | -12.27 | 10 | 11 Chemistry Class
    +0.38 | -0.34 | -13.45 | 11 | 12 Two Little Hitlers
    -0.18 | -0.58 | -10.02 | 09 | 13 (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?

    Official EP/Album DR: 10
     
  20. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Rezident

    Location:
    1060 W. Addison
    The 2020 hi res of Armed Forces is actually the same as the 2015 hi res remaster except for a small difference in one track. It’s only the 16/44 SDE I think 60 tracks that has the 2020 remastering and DR of around 12 overall for the album. It’s a crappy misnomer that caught me out anyway. This Years Model 2021 is great and I like it over the Rhino a good bit more. The AF 2020 hi res beat the Rhino for me but by not as much. I have not tried the SDE yet but will soon.
     
  21. dmcnelly

    dmcnelly Grammy Award Loser

    Location:
    Michigan
    Well that's a bummer! Now I've gotta buy the Super Deluxe edition.
     
  22. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Yes, the hi-res recycled the Rhino/Hip-O mastering, I believe (I could be wrong). It's ONLY the 16/44.1 download that has the good mastering, for some reason. Baffling and maddening. I feel bad for the people who have purchased it and now need to purchase the same damn thing again – a technically inferior version, no less – to get the greatest possible enjoyment out of it. It's ridiculous.
     
  23. bmoregnr

    bmoregnr Forum Rezident

    Location:
    1060 W. Addison
    Since we were talking about it here I level matched about 8 songs of the 2020 24/96 and the 16/44 SDE of Armed Forces and the SDE is very nice, more relaxed and balanced, a little brighter but naturally so. The 24/96 is forward and stressed/pinched feeling over time; never really distressing at any given point in time for my money maybe but it builds up on you. It seems to have an oversized amount of bass as well and maybe that’s at least part of the DR differences.
     
  24. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Does the 16/44 SDE have any compression? Do the peaks hit a certain ceiling, even if softly and infrequently? It's hard for me to tell via the Qobuz samples, but it does sound to me like there is a little bit of dynamic range reduction going on. It still sounds great, I'm just curious.
     
  25. Michael Macrone

    Michael Macrone a roMance anagram

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't see any undue compression in the waveforms of what I thought would be the loudest tracks.

    DR11: Goon Squad (which has the highest peak value on the album, -0.03 dB):
    [​IMG]

    DR11: (What's So Funny about) Peace, Love, and Understanding:
    [​IMG]
     

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